Building Individual and Collective Resilience with Lesley Pate Marlin, Associate General Counsel at FINRA
In this episode of On Record PR, Jennifer Simpson Carr goes on record with Lesley Pate Marlin, Associate General Counsel for Labor and Employment at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, about how to build individual and collective resilience.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: Lesley, welcome to the show, and we certainly have to extend a very sincere thank you to Susan Freeman, who kindly made this introduction. So thank you, Susan. She was a guest during season two and Gina, our CEO, interviewed her.
Lesley Pate Marlin: Thank you. And yes, I’ll echo your thanks to Susan. She is just an amazing leader and friend. When I saw her work with the Empowered Women’s Conference, which is really all about women and storytelling, I was drawn to that, because I have realized the power of storytelling throughout my career. Even though I’m a lawyer and usually it’s facts and figures and data and analysis, I have come to really appreciate the power and impact of stories and storytelling. When I saw the information about her conference a couple of years ago, I reached out to her, she welcomed me with open arms, and I joined the planning committee. I’m super excited to be live in person in Chicago in a couple of weeks for what really promises to be a very empowering and inspiring event.
Jennifer Simpson Carr: I’m so glad that you spoke in such detail about the Empowered Women’s Conference. I will be attending along with Gina Rubel, and we’re very excited to meet you in person. Gina has attended the conference before. She was a speaker several years ago and has had nothing but wonderful things to say about the power of storytelling that’s conducted throughout the day, and the amazing network of individuals who attend. I am a first-timer, and I am very grateful to be going this year.
Before we dive into the conversation around resilience, I listened to your TED Masterclass program. I just want to encourage our listeners to take nine minutes out of their day to listen, it was absolutely wonderful. I noticed a few familiar faces from the ACC New Jersey Chapter, particularly Bert Kaminski, who was also a guest on our show earlier in season two. I can only imagine what a wonderful resource that’s been for your fellow in-house counsel.
What is resilience, and what does it mean to you?
I think about resilience as being persevering and adapting well, when you’re faced with those challenges with adversity, with stress. We’ve all had a lot of that in the last couple of years in ways none of us could ever have imagined. Despite any sort of beliefs to the contrary, resilience doesn’t just happen, it’s not like surviving all these stresses and challenges and adversity makes us resilient. Instead, resilience is really a skill that we build over time through practice. It’s those challenges and adversity and stress that give us the opportunity to practice those skills of resilience, and we do that both individually and collectively. That’s really what gives resilience its importance and its power.
Can you talk more about building resilience individually and collectively?
When I say individually and collectively, it’s really that process of persevering and adapting well in difficult circumstances. That’s just happening at different levels. One is at the individual level, and then one is at a collective level within a group, an organization, a team, a community – that’s building collective resilience. When we talk about workplace resilience, that has to occur both individually and collectively. I like to say, in the workplace, it’s the power of me combined with the power of we.
Why is resilience in the workplace important?
Workplace resilience is what helps an organization not only survive in difficult times but also thrive. I would be as bold to say, I truly believe that workplace resilience is the new organizational differentiator because beyond getting results, which it does, it also really values effort. When we recognize and reward resilience, we are creating greater workplace equity, that in turn fosters psychological safety and innovation, which is what truly transforms the workplace and the organization.
How do we build workplace resilience?
We do it by creating awareness about individual and collective resilience. Then we do it by having opportunities to practice that skill-building. At the individual level, individuals can build their own resilience by practicing the three R’s.
- Reflect: When there is a difficult situation, an individual in that situation can stop, pause, reflect, take in what’s going on right before they respond instead of reacting.
- Release: They can release, figure out what it is they need to let go of. What do they have control over, and what do they not have control over?
- Restore: Ask, “What do I need to do to restore, to bring myself back, and move forward?”
At the collective level, groups, teams, organizations, communities can build organizational and collective resilience when they DREAM. And that’s kind of an acronym I made up because I think it comprises the key components of what I have seen in all my years supporting workplaces, organizations, and groups and teams that have good collective resilience. They are in a difficult situation, and they are dreaming about that future looks like, when we get beyond this difficult situation. In the process of doing that, they are doing five different things.
- Developing connections using empathy. They are using each other collectively to connect and using empathy to build that connection with each other.
- Reflect, respond, and not react. They’re not using that initial response of, “Okay, something happens and I’m going to react,” but “I’m pausing to reflect, and then I’m going to be strategic in my response. How do I want to respond?” and they own that response.
- Exploring options. Looking at the situation and going, “What are the options we have?” Sometimes it’s pros and cons, sometimes it’s a gut feel on what we need and prioritizing.
- Accepting people’s circumstances and emotions. When you are in a difficult situation, different individuals within that collective group, team, community, or organization are going to have different responses, different thoughts, different feelings to what’s happening. Not judging them, but really accepting them, all of those people in those circumstances and those emotions for what they are, and acknowledging them.
- Making meaning. Look at this situation and say, “What can we take from it, and where do we want to go?” That leads you back to sort of the broader acronym of DREAMing. What is that future state?
That is practicing building resilience, and that’s how it starts to over time come more naturally. That is what gives resilience its impact and its power.
Can you give us an example of building resilience?
The one that comes to mind right now deals with the circumstances many folks are in, and many organizations are grappling with – return to office and hybrid work. Surveys show a disconnect between what employers and employees want. At its core, the issue really hinges on the purpose of the office. Employers think it’s about productivity, collaboration, and culture. Employees think it’s about collaboration, access to what they need to do their jobs, and training and career development. Fundamentally, what employees seem to want the most is flexibility. What’s so fascinating as you look at that, what do employers want and what do employees want, is that there are differences, but there’s also overlap. That’s really the opportunity for organizations to use that DREAM framework to create a shared vision around return to the office and hybrid work so they can build that collective resilience.
What advice do you give to individuals and groups for managing through and overcoming any type of setback?
Setbacks are frustrating for sure, but they’re also inevitable. I think it’s important to have a way to approach them when they do happen, because as I said, they are inevitable. When you think about that approach to use when those inevitable setbacks happen, what immediately comes to my mind is remembering that resilience comes from both the heart and the head. That’s why we see both of those aspects in the individual framework of the three R’s and then the collective DREAM framework. The hard work is around the feelings, acknowledging them, releasing them, connecting with others through empathy, and then restoring. The head work is around our thoughts, reflecting on what happened, where we are right now, exploring those options, and then making meaning about what do we do to move forward. It’s both those pieces, it’s the heart and the head together, whether you’re using that individual framework of the three R’s or the collective DREAM framework.
Jennifer: Those are great examples. You mentioned empathy, and it brings me back to the conference we were talking about earlier, which is the power of storytelling and allowing yourself to hear other’s perspectives and learn and grow, to exercise that empathy and grow your knowledge of what others may be experiencing that perhaps you are not. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, and insights with us today, and thank you to our listeners as well. I cannot wait to meet you in a few weeks and see you in Chicago.
About Lesley Pate Marlin
Lesley is an experienced, senior in-house attorney with a specialty in labor and employment law. She works for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as their Associate General Counsel for Labor and Employment. FINRA is a not-for-profit organization, overseen by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through the regulation of brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States.
In her role at FINRA, Lesley provides day-to-day practical and strategic legal advice, develops or updates policies and procedures to comply with applicable laws, responds to administrative charges and demand letters, handles government investigations, and conducts training. She speaks frequently on various workplace issues, including labor and employment law topics, culture and psychological safety, diversity and inclusion, resilience and career development. She participated in the Association of Corporate Counsel’s TED Masterclass program, where she spoke about the power of resilience.
Beyond her professional engagements, Lesley is committed to giving back to her community. She serves as the Vice President/President-Elect of the Board of Directors for the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing.
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